Team Israel UEFA championships 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel may have already lost any real hope of qualifying for the European
Under-21 Championship semifinals, but it at least ended its campaign on a sweet
note on Tuesday night, beating England 1-0 at Teddy Stadium in its final Group A
On paper, Israel still had a chance of reaching the last four
entering the encounter, but it required an unrealistic combination of a victory
over England, a Norway loss to Italy and a six-goal swing in its
Italy and Norway drew 1-1 in Group A’s other match at Bloomfield
Stadium to ensure they both advanced to the semis regardless of the result at
However, Ofir Kriaf gave Israel a reason to celebrate with an
80th-minute goal with what was just the blue-and-white’s second attempt on
target, securing the team’s first ever victory in the tournament.
couldn’t be happier with this win over England after all of the obituaries which
were written about me and the national team,” said Luzon, who nevertheless
insisted that he didn’t read or hear the criticism leveled at him.
more I am criticized the stronger I become. It’s a great challenge for me and
gives me extra motivation.”
Luzon guided the Under-21 team for the final
time on Tuesday after signing a contract with Belgian club Standard Liege before
the start of the tournament.
“I’m delighted to have been given the
opportunity to coach these players,” added Luzon, who celebrated as if his team
had won the tournament following Kriaf’s goal and the final whistle. “I really
love these players and I’m really saddened to be leaving them.”
then explained why he had come under so much fire in the past week.
always say the truth unlike all the hypocrites,” he noted. “I said that every
point we win and every goal we score would be an achievement. We have finished
above England, Germany and Russia and that is not going to happen again in my
England created the better chances on Tuesday, but failed to
find the back of the net, ending the tournament without a point having scored
just once, with even that being netted from the penalty spot.
players have to take that on the chin. I’m not coming out here defending anyone,
I’m sick of doing that,” said England coach Stuart Pearce, who will soon be out
of contract and is unlikely to be handed an extension considering the team’s
dismal display in Israel.
“It’s difficult to support the players after
those three games. The standard we have set before this tournament is a million
miles away from that.
“The bottom line is you expect your players to do
the basics, you don’t expect to stand in the technical area and tell them the
same things eight or nine times.”
After initially blaming the players who
didn’t come to Israel for his side’s poor play, Pearce lashed out at those who
were on the pitch on Tuesday.
“I don’t see why I should stand here and
defend them, let them come here and speak to the cameras,” he added. “It
certainly won’t affect my position, whether it affects the FA’s position, I
don’t know. I took the team into the tournament. We were poor in the tournament
and poor tonight. We got what we deserved.”
Knowing that they had in all
likelihood already secured their progress, Italy and Norway rested their
starters on Tuesday. Italy made seven changes to its lineup, while Norway made
Norway seemed to be heading to the win and up to first place in the
group when Stefan Strandberg scored from the penalty spot in the 90th
However, a goalkeeping howler by Arild Østbø gifted the Italians
the equalizer in the fourth minute of stoppage time, with Andrea Bertolacci
scoring with his back to the goal.
Italy and Norway now await either the
Netherlands or Spain in the semifinals.
A draw or better for the Dutch
against the Spaniards on Wednesday will see them win Group B and face Norway,
while Spain requires a victory in Petah Tikva to avoid a meeting with Italy in
Also Wednesday, Germany faces Russia, with both teams still
without a point.